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Canterbury's sportsmanship rewarded

The FHSAA names the St. Petersburg school a finalist for the Fred E. Rozelle Award.

By PETE YOUNG

© St. Petersburg Times,
published June 10, 2001


Dave Smith had an ambitious plan for Canterbury. Turns out, he underestimated his school.

Upon becoming the Crusaders' athletic director prior to the 2000-2001 school year, Smith put sportsmanship at the top of his priority list.

He set two goals: Within two years, he wanted Canterbury to be nominated for the Florida High School Activities Association's sportsmanship award. Within three, he wanted to win it.

One year might be enough for both goals. The Crusaders were one of 61 schools nominated for the FHSAA's Fred E. Rozelle Sportsmanship Award.

They are one of 13 to be named a sectional winner (Class A, Section 3) and one of three schools, along with Seven Rivers Christian and Port St. Lucie Morningside Academy, vying for the Class A sportsmanship award. The winner will be announced June 14 at a banquet at the Wyndham Westshore in Tampa.

"Aside from winning a state title, this is the best award you can get, in my opinion," Smith said. "You don't have to sacrifice competitiveness to have good sportsmanship.

"This is how I want Canterbury to be known. We're hoping to make this an annual thing."

According to the FHSAA, schools can be nominated by other schools or by officials organizations.

Nominated schools then are evaluated by a five-person FHSAA committee, which selects up to four sectional winners from each classification.

If no schools from a section are nominated or if the committee doesn't believe any nominated schools deserve the sectional award, it can leave a section vacant.

While Smith credited the athletes, coaches and parents in all sports at Canterbury for contributing to the sectional award, he said he believes the act of one particular athlete got the Crusaders nominated.

The FHSAA would not confirm it, but Smith believes golfer Ryan Nachit is responsible. Nachit, Canterbury's No. 1 golfer, drove his ball into the rough on the first hole of the Class A, Region 5 tournament Oct. 30 at Innisbrook's Island course.

He played out the hole then teed off on No. 2. When he looked closely at the ball in the fairway, he realized it wasn't his ball. Nachit promptly disqualified himself for playing the wrong ball. He cost his team a chance at the regional title but earned the school and himself heaping praise for their integrity.

"He came walking down the cart path with tears in his eyes," Smith said. "He had cost Canterbury a shot at the region title, but eventually, he felt better because he knew he had done the right thing."

Smith, who coaches volleyball and boys basketball at the school, and the other Canterbury coaches had a group meeting with parents before the start of their respective seasons.

Besides going over the schedule and team rules, Smith said he requires each coach to talk about "sportsmanship expectations."

"The parents have to understand that what they do in the stands, the kids are going to see that and feed off of that," Smith said.

"We tell them they are expected to act with sportsmanship when the team is doing well and when it isn't."

Canterbury, Seven Rivers Christian and Zephyrhills are the only area schools to win sectional awards.

Each receives $500, and the overall classification winners receive an additional $2,000.

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